Stanley, George D., Jr. Department of Geosciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana.
Last reviewed:March 2020
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- Coral reefs
- Corals and disease
- Types of pathogenic diseases
- Recommendations for the preservation of coral reefs
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Pathological conditions affecting the health of coral and causing its physiological dysfunction. Broadly defined, coral disease (Fig. 1) is any impairment to coral health resulting in physiological disturbance and breakdown. It usually involves three components: (1) the host, such as a coral; (2) an agent; and (3) the surrounding environment. Most agents are microbial and include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protistans (single-celled organisms). The rise of coral diseases is probably a reaction to global sea warming, increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and runoff from land, including sewage, nutrients, and toxic chemicals (for example, pesticides and agrochemicals). Humans clearly are implicated in the problem; for example, pathogens in infected corals have been traced directly to human sewage. See also: Coral reef structural complexity; Disease; Ocean warming; Pathogen; Reef; Ultraviolet radiation (biology)
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